ESP Students Skate through an Hour of Code
Posted On:
Monday, December 15, 2014
3rd Grade ESP showing how they feel about an Hour of Code
3rd Grade ESP showing how they feel about an Hour of Code

More than 70 million students, representing over 180 countries worldwide have participated in the Hour of Code since its inception in 2013. This year, all of Appleby’s ESP students got the opportunity to pull back the curtain and take a peek into how some of their favorite computer games and apps run. Using an interface called Blockly, students pieced together computer programs like jigsaw puzzles-- each block or piece of the puzzle representing specific instructions written in a computer language called JavaScript.

After a five minute mini lesson, 3rd grade ESP students created programs which allowed some of their favorite characters from Disney’s Frozen to skate around their computer screens drawing snowflakes of growing complexity in the ”ice”. While students fumbled a bit at the beginning, claiming computer programming was just “too hard”, with a bit of coaching, they persevered and soon were skating through all 20 levels of the “game”. Students were engaged, excited and speaking to each other about computer programming and problem solving. They were using mathematics, such as the angle measure of squares, circles and parallelograms. But best of all, their excitement spread beyond the walls of our classroom--many continued programming at home and moved on to more challenging assignments.

Code.org, the non-profit organization responsible for launching the Hour of Code, believes that every child should have the opportunity to learn computer science and that it should be an integral part of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) courses. Code.org has differentiated lessons for students of all ages—from a non-reading four year old all the way up through a tech savvy high school student. Additionally, there are activities that don’t require a computer at all, yet require students to use critical thinking skills just like a programmer. Our goal, in ESP, is to take the Hour of Code to the masses—we want all Spotswood students, grades Pre-K to 12 to participate in the Hour of Code next year. Who knows? Maybe the next Larry Page, Bill Gates or Marissa Ann Mayer is sitting in one of our classrooms right now.

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